Monday, 5 December 2016

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 4 December

Sue, Esther, Alex, Duncan, Gary and I made another visit to the feeding site at Sutton Bonington today in calm netting conditions but with clear skies and a slight frost to start. Catching was slow but picked up a little when we put a 6m net in a new site. I had a quick look back at the November 2015 catches, we made 2 visits then and caught 33 Great and Blue Tit individuals. This year in 4 November visits we have only had 15 individuals and I guess that the poor breeding season tits have had is to blame.

We ended on 29 birds including 10 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/0, Robin 0/2, Redwing 2/0, Blackbird 1/0, Great Tit 3/1, Blue Tit 2/3, Goldfinch 4/0, Greenfinch 1/0, Chaffinch 5/3, Reed Bunting 0/1. The oldest retraps were from last winter.


 A Chaffinch with a white cap! (A. Phillips)

 Processing a Greenfinch and a frosty start (S. Lakeman)

Avian Influenza in Europe

The Avian Influenza risk level has been increased to medium. The strain of the virus currently circulating is H5N8 and the risk to public health is very low. However, the increase in risk level has altered Defra’s request for information on wild birds found dead.

If you find one or more dead swans, ducks, geese or gulls or five or more dead wild birds of other species, please report this to the Defra hotline: 03459 33 55 77.

The advice is not to handle sick or dead birds unless absolutely necessary.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Brackenhurst, Tuesday 29 November

Duncan and I, and new ringers Erin & Hannah, braved the first decent frost of the winter at Brackenhurst today, after first needing Simon’s help to check through Equine’s new Checkpoint Charlie (a cold war joke there geddit?).

We processed 43 birds, 29 of which were caught before 9:00am. The cold bought in some Yellowhammers and thrushes first thing. The star bird, by a country mile, was a young Mistle Thrush. Up to 2015, only 291 have ever been ringed in Nottinghamshire.

The oldest retraps were a Robin and Great Tit from 2013. Again, tit numbers were down. It was surprising we only caught adult Robins, but they do seem to turn up on cold mornings when maybe are looking for a sure source of food?

Totals as follows (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/1, Robin 0/4, Blackbird 6/0, Redwing 3/0, Mistle Thrush 1/0, Blue Tit 2/0, Great Tit 0/2, House Sparrow 3/0, Chaffinch 6/5, Yellowhammer 5/4.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Sutton Bonington, Saturday 26 November

Sue, Gary and I made another visit to the feeding site at Sutton Bonington today in perfect netting conditions, still and overcast. Catching was steady with a peak as a Long-tailed Tit flock went into the nets but was not as good as we were hoping for given the conditions. We ended on 35 birds including 12 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Wren 2/0, Dunnock 0/3, Robin 0/1, Blackbird 2/0, Great Tit 1/2, Blue Tit 3/2, Long-tailed Tit 8/2, Goldcrest 1/0, Goldfinch 5/1, Chaffinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 0/1. The oldest retraps were from last winter.


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Sutton Bonington, Saturday 19 November

Sue, Gary and I made another visit to the feeding site at Sutton Bonington today. It was a relatively calm and sunny morning, we were hoping for a little more cloud as the nets at this site are quite exposed and the full sun undoubtedly affected the catch. It was nice to get the first Reed Bunting and Yellowhammers of the winter and to retrap one of the 13 Lesser Redpoll we ringed last winter.

We ended on 22 birds including 7 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/2, Robin 0/1, Great Tit 1/1, Goldfinch 10/1, Lesser Redpoll 0/1, Chaffinch 0/1, Reed Bunting 1/0, Yellowhammer 2/0. The oldest retraps were from last winter.


 Photos by Sue Lakeman

Thursday, 17 November 2016


For the last couple of years several members of SNRG have been fortunate enough to assist Jamie Dunning in his study of Twite. He has been catching and colour-ringing them in the Pennines, near Manchester, and in Derbyshire near Buxton. He has had several sightings providing some important information on their movements, longevity and how they mix between populations. One of the most recent sightings has been in Nottinghamshire, just North of Misterton. This is great news as not only are there very few sightings of Twite in Notts, but this one was actually ringed by Duncan at the Derbyshire site in September this year! Thanks to Caroline Smith, the observer, for the photos.

Mick P

Monday, 14 November 2016

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 13 November

Duncan, Sue, Esther, Gary and I made the second visit of the winter to the feeding site at Sutton Bonington on Sunday. A still and sunny morning resulted in a better catch than last week but the site was still relatively quiet, bird wise.

We caught 25 birds including 6 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Great Spotted Woodpecker 1/0, Dunnock 2/1, Robin 1/3, Blue Tit 1/0, Great Tit 1/2, Goldfinch 9/0, Chaffinch 4/0. The oldest retraps were from last winter.


(photos by S. Lakeman)

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Brackenhurst, Tuesday 8 November

An okay start to the winter's ringing at Brackenhurst today on a nice frosty, clear and bright morning. Kev and I, plus new ringer Erin Cubitt, got down to the feeders before first light with the intention of netting some thrushes in Orwin's. This just about worked with one Redwing ringed.

We processed 22 birds, but nearly all of those were caught before 09:00am, and we took nets down at 11:00am. Still it was nice to catch up with Kev and meet Erin.

Totals were 22 birds (18 new/4 retrap): Dunnock 1/1, Robin 1/1, Redwing 1/0, Goldcrest 4/0, Long-tailed Tit 4/1, Great Tit 3/1, House Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 3/0.

No Blue Tits were caught, perhaps confirming their poor breeding season. The best of the retraps was a Great Tit captured for the 13th time since 2012 and a 2013 Robin. Star bird was a House Sparrow, because we are PIT tagging them as part of a NTU project, and it was the first to have its tag fitted.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Sutton Bonington, Saturday 5 November

Duncan, Gary and I made the first visit of the winter to the feeding site at Sutton Bonington today. Having had a week of calm weather it was disappointing to see the forecast was for a relatively windy weekend and so it was, at least today. The breeze was increasing as we put the nets up and blowing leaves into them in large quantities. The site seemed quiet bird wise but the conditions really beat us and we took down early after spending quite a while extracting the leaves. We only caught 10 birds including 2 retraps new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 2/0, Blue Tit 0/1, Great Tit 1/1, Goldfinch 1/0, Chaffinch 2/0. The retraps were from last winter.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

British Dragonfly Society - Annual Meeting 2016

We've just been sent an open invitation to this meeting which is to be held on Saturday 19 November at Brackenhurst Campus, Nottingham Trent University, NG25 0QF.

There is a fantastic programme lined up with an introduction from the new President, Mike Dilger and a look at the Dragonflies of Nottinghamshire.

For the full programme, visit:

All are welcome and attendance is free of charge, although we are grateful for any donations received. Please share this opportunity and to find out more and to book, visit:

Isle of May, 8-17 October

Earlier this year, Gary emailed with news of his intentions of a ringing expedition to the Isle of May in October. Having heard of previous trips taken by other group members, and with a particular interest in east coast autumn migration, I very quickly showed my interest. Several months passed slowly and eventually on a mild and clear Saturday morning, after a drive up with Linda Lowndes, a friend of SNRG, we met with our other group members, Roger Hughes and Sue Pollard to board the Osprey RIB to make the short crossing to the island.

Saturday 8th

We alighted at Kirkhaven, with a welcoming party of grey seals, Shags and Turnstones, and quickly caught up with the previous group coming off the island, who had experienced an excellent week, ringing over 1200 birds, including scarcities such as Blyth's Reed Warbler and Radde’s Warbler. There were still plenty of birds left over from the recent fall, mostly thrushes and Goldcrests, and we soon set nets and began to operate traps.

We had a successful first day and were kept very busy with Goldcrests in the mist nets. 125 new birds were ringed: Goldcrest 93, Blackbird 11, Robin 7, Song Thrush 5, Redwing 3, Blackcap 3, Chiffchaff 2, Wren 1. We also retrapped a Firecrest that had been ringed the previous week, and in the evening we watched 2 Short-eared Owls on the north plateau. Yellow-browed Warbler, Redstart and Wheatear were also seen.

Sunday 9th

Got up early to work the traps and as the wind was still relatively calm, we could open a few nets. The clear conditions meant that birds had obviously started to move out, noticeable as we made our way round the island, however we still had a very productive day, particularly in the afternoon when we mist-netted a good number of birds in the top garden.

107 new birds ringed: Goldcrest 32, Blackbird 18, Redwing 17, Song Thrush 15, Robin 7, Blackcap 6, Wren 4, Yellow-browed Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 3, Redpoll 1, Brambling 1. Obviously the 3 Yellow-browed Warblers were a highlight. These would be the last we’d see for the rest of the week, after obviously getting the last of the influx that the team had experienced the previous week, when they had ringed nearly 40! A Little Bunting was seen at Kirkhaven, and several woodcock were noted.

Monday 10th

A much quieter day, the winds had increased which meant that we could only really use the traps, and although the wind was still coming from the east, there weren’t really any new birds coming in and a lot of stuff had cleared out. However, in the evening, the warden David Steel, reported a Blyth’s Reed Warbler near one of the traps, so Gary and I went down to investigate. No Blyth's sadly, but we did get a Water Rail for our efforts. 4 Manx Shearwater noted.

42 new birds ringed: Goldcrest 22, Song Thrush 8, Blackbird 5, Redwing 2, Robin 1, Blackcap 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 1, Water Rail 1.

Tuesday 11th

Another quiet day with few new birds noted. Too windy again for nets, so traps used for most of the day.

42 new birds ringed: Blackbird 19, Blackcap 6, Robin 5, Redwing 5, Song Thrush 4, Goldcrest 2, Chiffchaff 1.

Wednesday 12th

The day started quietly, with few new birds noted an only small numbers trapped in the morning. However after lunchtime, things picked up with a few arrivals being noted, with decent numbers of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff. Lighter winds allowed more sheltered nets to be opened, and the afternoon was quite productive.

114 new birds ringed: Goldcrest 38, Robin 21, Redwing 19, Blackbird 12, Song Thrush 6, Chiffchaff 6, Redpoll 5, Blackcap 2, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Ring Ouzel 1, Redstart 1, Brambling 1.

The highlight of the day was definitely the smart 1st year male Ring Ouzel, caught first thing in one of the traps. A number of redpoll were noted arriving early afternoon, including some Common Redpoll. Some of these were trapped in the evening, and it was interesting comparing the differences between them and the browner, smaller Lesser Redpolls. A couple of Wheatear were noted too, and another Water Rail which evaded capture in the Bain trap on several occasions!

Thursday 13th

A much busier day, new birds were seen throughout the day with a general influx of thrushes, Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. Small flocks of Brambling and redpoll were also noted, and 3 Short-eared Owls were seen on the North Plateau. David Steel reported an Olive-backed Pipit in the same area, which I looked for, but couldn’t locate (several times…..)

111 new birds ringed: Robin 27, Blackbird 19, Song Thrush 18, Redwing 13, Goldcrest 13, Chiffchaff 12, Blackcap 4, Lesser Whitethroat 3, Wren 1, Lesser Redpoll 1.

Friday 14th

Heavy rain overnight, which continued until mid-morning, which meant traps couldn’t be operated until a bit later than usual. However the poor weather meant that there had been a fall of common migrants on the island, with lots of thrushes, Blackbirds and Robins as well as the ever-present Goldcrests!

Traps were worked all day, and nets were barely opened, but still a total of 201 new birds was achieved throughout the day. Blackbird 76, Robin 45, Blackcap 35, Song Thrush 18, Goldcrest 15, Redwing 5, Dunnock 2, Chiffchaff 2, Redpoll 2, Reed Warbler 1.

Catching so many Blackbirds was a highlight and sometimes the catching boxes in the traps were full of them! A Reed Warbler in one of the traps got pulses racing but was clearly a Eurasian Reewa. Definitely a good fall day though, and had we been able to open nets, we may have been a bit over-run!

There was plenty to see otherwise, with a decent passage of Skylark, an apparent influx of Blackcaps, flocks of Brambling, Snipe and Jack Snipe and a Great Grey Shrike in the top Garden at the end of the day. The Little Bunting was also noted, and David Steel once again saw the Olive-backed Pipit as well as a Dusky Warbler.

Saturday 15th

We were meant to depart today, but were told the previous afternoon that we wouldn’t be able to get off the island due to inclement weather so we had to stay put til Sunday. We awoke to heavy rain which stayed put til late morning, when Tom and Gary had had enough of sitting it out and decided to go birding. Tom went searching hopelessly for the OBP and Dusky Warbler, while Gary had other intentions. He came up trumps, as he came back to Low Light with two Woodcock from the Heligoland traps.

Ringing started properly from around midday and another excellent day was had with 129 new birds ringed: Blackbird 58, Blackcap 23, Robin 18, Song Thrush 11, Redwing 10, Woodcock 4, Dunnock 2, Goldcrest 1, Wren 1, Great Grey Shrike 1.

4 Woodcock throughout the day was a great experience, and was only a small sample of the 40+ that were seen across the island that day. The shrike was caught in the Bain trap shortly after midday and was a favourite amongst the group and what was presumably the same bird stayed with us til the last day. The poor weather had obviously delivered again as common migrants were still everywhere, especially Blackbirds, Blackcaps and robins. Big flocks of winter thrushes were noted coming in and over 150 Brambling were logged.

Sunday 16th

A day of mixed fortunes. We had packed up and cleaned the Low light and were ready to leave when we received a call from the boatmen saying that they were unable to come until Tuesday! We were all ready to go, but things are never straight forward on an island! Luckily Gary had provisioned enough food to keep us going and we were helped along by the ample emergency rations in the Low Light too.

Normal service was resumed and traps were driven once again in the afternoon with a steady trickle of birds throughout, and 57 new birds were ringed: Song Thrush 21, Blackbird 19, Redwing 8, Dunnock 4, Robin 4, Barred Warbler 1.

The Barred Warbler, a 1st year bird, was caught on the very last trap drive, and more than made up for the disappointment of not being able to get home. A Firecrest was also seen by Tom in the morning. We went for an evening wander round the island to see if we could see the Northern Lights which were forecast, but the cloudy sky put paid to that, but we spent the time wisely in getting an owl net up in the Top garden, as 2 Asio sp were seen to come in to roost.

Monday 17th.

Hopes were high for getting off the island today. In the meantime, Gary and Linda went to check the Owl nets and managed to flush a Long-eared owl successfully in the right direction. It made Linda’s week and was a truly beautiful bird to see so close. It must have been a good omen, as we received a visit later on from David, who brought the good news that we were being taken off the island that afternoon. We packed up, cleaned the Low Light and got off the island, but not before getting a soaking on the trip back in the RIB.

We all had an amazing week, with some new birds ringed and seen for some of the group. A total of 931 new birds were ringed in the time we were there. Had the wind been calmer, who knows what else we’d have managed in the mist-nets which largely stayed furled. Though, without the poor weather, would there have been as many birds anyway?

Thanks to Gary for his organisation and patience in scribing, and a special mention has to go to Sue for looking after us for the week too, it was much appreciated!


Totals for the week:


Friday, 21 October 2016

Recent recoveries

A number of Barn Owl recoveries have come in recently. Two were unfortunate birds which were found dead or injured. One was found in Tithby near Cropwell Bishop in September, after having been ringed at the nest near Brock Hill in Leicestershire in June. The other was found with a broken pelvis at Rufford park in October, having been ringed nearby in Eakring in August.

Another bird ringed by us has been recovered by another group. Ringed as a 3 (a bird of the year) in Halam in August 2014, it was controlled 90km away in Warwickshire in June this year.

Several birds have also been controlled by us. A bird was caught in Flintham in July, having been ringed by another ringer in East Bridgford in June 2014. Jim also controlled one of his own birds from his Lincolnshire project with Adrian Blackburn - it was originally ringed in Spilsby in 2014 and was controlled in August in Kirklington.

And finally, the headline bird was one ringed in Scredington, Lincs that we controlled in Eaton, Leics in October. This bird had originally been ringed as a chick ten years ago, in June 2006.

A Tawny Owl recovery has come in too - a bird ringed in Girton in May 2015 was found dead on the road in the next village, North Scarle, in September this year.

In non-owl news, we have had a few decent recoveries, all related to birds found or ringed at Attenborough Nature Reserve.

A Sand Martin, controlled at the Attenborough colony in July this year, had originally been ringed in the large nature reserve of Etang de la Horre, in the Champagne region of France in the August of 2015. Coincidentally, 4 days previous to this bird being ringed, the French ringers controlled another Sand Martin at the same site, which had originally been ringed at Attenborough 2 months previously. It seems we're swapping Sand Martins...

A Common Tern ringed on the reserve as a chick in July 2013 was controlled by ringers at Seal Sands, Teesmouth in August this year.

And finally a Sedge Warbler, caught on a CES session back in May 2012, which was found with a Spanish ring, had originally been ringed in Northern Spain, at a site near Vitoria, Basque country in August 2011.


Late Barn Owls

The season has been pretty good in the Vale of Belvoir this year. This brood of six was ringed on 26 September. Not only is this reasonably late, but it is late for such a big brood.


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, Sunday 9 October

Sue, Duncan and I made a visit to the golf club today and put up the usual 8 x 18m nets with mixed warbler and Redwing song on two MP3 players. The weather was clear and calm and we started catching quite well but as the sun got higher the catches dropped.

We finished on 38 birds including 4 retraps. The species totals were (new/recapture): Blackcap 1/0, Chiffchaff 4/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Wren 3/0, Dunnock 1/0, Robin 1/0, Blue Tit 1/2, Greenfinch 1/0, Bullfinch 4/1, Goldfinch 1/0, Pied Wagtail 1/0, Redwing 12/0, Blackbird 3/1.

The Pied Wagtail was a surprise, it hit the top shelf, when being chased by another bird, just above our heads as we were doing a net round. There were plenty of Redwing about but despite Yellow-browed Warblers being everywhere in the country at the moment none seemed to be at the golf club (but we did try playing a recording just in case). At the end of the session we removed all the poles and guys from the site.


 Pied Wagtail (S. Lakeman)

Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory, Friday 7 October

Kev, Duncan and I made the annual trip to Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory on Friday. We arrived at Gib at 06:45, just as dawn was breaking, perfect! After a quick coffee in the car park we made our way to the Observatory building to be met by George Gregory, the ringer in charge, appearing from behind the sand dunes. He had kindly arrived earlier and had opened all 23 nets, thanks George!

A quick briefing then a net round and then steady ringing till around lunch time when it slowed down. Following the previous few days of easterly winds and near perfect conditions on the day (after a brief shower) I guess we were expecting a busier day with a bit more variety, but a total of 105 new birds and 24 retraps left us happy.

The highlights of the day were a Ring Ouzel and a female Sparrowhawk which Duncan managed to get to before it escaped from the net. We also had a German ringed Robin which created a comedy sketch you just couldn't write!

Mick P